I recently met Yuguang Sun. Previously worked at Microsoft as a game programmer, Yuguang is currently the product manager/UX designer at “Pickies,” a food ordering service company he co-founded in New Jersey. Closely work with visual designer and programmers, he is in charge of prototyping and oversees the website design.
Education and background
Yuguang has an undergrad degree in Physics. He studied Computer science at Stevens Institute of Technology. While reading the biography of Steve Jobs, he was introduced to the concept of UX Design, and started taking courses in HCI and UX/UI basics. Yuguang also read books about Psychology along his way in becoming an UX designer. Looking back his journey, he realized that he has been interested Experience design for a while. Yuguang used to work on game design projects, where experience is a major component. He loves modern arts, which, in his interpretation, strives to bring viewers certain experience with visual rhythm.
“How did you get into your current position?”
Early Apple products were appealing to Yuguang; he was fascinated by the design and after Steve Job’s death he read his biography. As he dived into the world of UX design, he started reading books and blogs on this topic, including all of the 3 books by Don Norman. He collaborated with a group of game designer at a startup of a friend, but soon decided to run his own company.
While working on design projects as a freelancer, Yuguang see himself as a product manager at Pickies. He meet partners and negotiate, make plans and oversees the entire design process of their company website. Yuguang said that the normal phases goes as the following:
Talking to clients and getting to know their needs; create prototype; have visual designer do further editing; have programmers build the site; polish. Then the product was tested within the team, later in a small group of users, and finally the general public. In this process iteration is critical.
Yuguang also mentioned “Double blind test” – a testing method where neither the experimenter nor the participants know which group is control group and which one is test group. It helps to eliminate biased interpretations. Yuguang believes that this could be a combined with A/B test in evaluations.
“If you can go back to school, what course would you take?”
Yuguang said that he had been considering studying part-time for a UX degree. Some formal training in design and in using prototyping software is definitely necessary. He would also want to take research methods and usability testing courses. Yuguang revealed that since Pickies just started, they are are short of a specialist user research.
“Does your Computer Science degree helps?”
One thing Yuguang learned in work is that collaboration is the key. With training in CS he could communicate idea with programmers much easier. He also mentioned that CS training improved his critical thinking and problem solving skills. With rich knowledge of the tool that makes design models into something real, the design process may go smoother.
“What do you like/hate about your job?”
Yuguang loves the process of problem solving. While visual designers make “eye-candy” to please views, and programmers do what they are told to with little creativity, UX designers actually provide solutions and make things happen. He enjoys working on user-centered tasks, learning their needs, and getting feedback immediately.
Nevertheless, Yuguang admitted that it is hard to define UX. It’s all “soft-science”, and there are lots of things that you cannot prove with hard evidence. You cannot be 100% sure of what’s working and what’s not. On the other hand, regardless of all the efforts, good designs may not be appreciated since it’s so intuitive that people can’t even tell.
“Advice for UX newbies?”
Don’t stop learning. Read blogs, listen to podcasts, follow the news. This field is ever changing and be sure to keep up the pace. Full-stack designers are more preferable nowadays. It doesn’t hurt trying to become a “UX Unicorn”. Meanwhile improve communication skills, because it’s always teamwork in real life.
You must know how to adjust to different requests. UX design is a case-by-case job and every client has different need.
Know how to steal from the best. You’ll need to view at least 10 peer products before working on your own; do a thorough research/comparative analysis, the more the better.